London Heathrow airport in the evening.
Photo Credit: Heathrow Airport

Heathrow Prepares for Biggest Christmas Travel Period in 3 Years

LONDON – The UK’s busiest airport, London Heathrow, has released a breakdown of their October 2022 figures. The Airport is now preparing for a very busy Christmas season of travels which they project will be the biggest in the past three years.

Heathrow October figures


To kick things off, Heathrow catered to nearly 5.9 million passengers this October, which is a huge step up from last year, a 93.6% increase in fact.

These levels for just October was 89% of what the airport saw back in 2019 (pre-Covid) and for the entire 2022 year-to-date, brings their total passengers catered for to 50 million, which equates to 74% of what they saw back in 2019.

The London Heathrow (LHR) October figures broken down are as follows:

  • PASSENGER COUNT
    • UK (Domestic) – 298,000 a 21.7% increase compared to October 2021.
    • EU – 2,019,000 a 50.9% increase compared to October 2021.
    • Non-EU Europe – 405,000 a 52.6% increase compared to October 2021.
    • Africa – 258,000 a 123.7% increase compared to October 2021.
    • North America – 1,540,000 a 256.4% increase compared to October 2021.
    • Latin America – 152,000 a 212.3% increase compared to October 2021.
    • Middle East – 658,000 a 73.5% increase compared to October 2021.
    • Asia / Pacific – 563,000 a 156.6% increase compared to October 2021.
  • AIRCRAFT MOVEMENTS
    • UK (Domestic) – 2,296 a 13.3% increase compared to October 2021.
    • EU – 15,627 a 43.5% increase compared to October 2021.
    • Non-EU Europe – 2,953 a 40% increase compared to October 2021.
    • Africa – 1,123 a 59.7% increase compared to October 2021.
    • North America – 7,083 a 92.1% increase compared to October 2021.
    • Latin America – 626 a 65.2% increase compared to October 2021.
    • Middle East – 2,264 a 20.8% increase compared to October 2021.
    • Asia / Pacific – 2,608 a 14.6% increase compared to October 2021.
  • CARGO TRANSPORTED
    • UK (Domestic) – 4 Tonnes a 77.8% decrease compared to October 2021.
    • EU – 8,263 Tonnes a 24.9% decrease compared to October 2021.
    • Non-EU Europe – 3,511 Tonnes a 46.9% decrease compared to October 2021.
    • Africa – 5,946 Tonnes a 5.9% decrease compared to October 2021.
    • North America – 46,443 Tonnes a 1.8% increase compared to October 2021.
    • Latin America – 4,454 Tonnes a 59.6% increase compared to October 2021.
    • Middle East – 20,434 Tonnes a 7% decrease compared to October 2021.
    • Asia / Pacific – 26,030 Tonnes a 33.7% decrease compared to October 2021.

A past season of delays


Heathrow has still had issues here and there throughout the majority of this year, primarily with security delays and ground handling delays that have resulted in passengers experiencing problems and frustrations with their journeys.

However, in the last 12 months alone, Heathrow and its serving companies have so far hired approximately 16,000 new employees and is expecting to be a staffing levels they say pre-pandemic as we approach the peak summer season in 2023.

On top of the continued pace of hiring new employees, Heathrow is also focusing on investing over £4 billion over the coming few years to improve customer service, with new facilities such as security lanes that enable the traveller to keep laptops and liquids in their bags and a new baggage system for Terminal 2, that has recently been a huge suffering point for the airport in recent months.

Heathrow is also proposing changes to its landing charges from 2023 which should help increase the attractiveness of the airport, ensuring that it keeps existing airlines serving as well as inviting new carriers or even existing carriers to grow their network from Heathrow, thereby opening up more options for passengers.

Commenting on their latest announcement, Heathrow’s Chief Executive Officer, John Holland-Kaye, has said, “We have come so far since Omicron grounded Christmas travel plans last year. Heathrow, our airline partners and their handlers are all working together to make sure everyone can be reunited with their loved ones this Christmas.”

Overall


Heathrow certainly has a lot of work to do for the expected busy Christmas period that is looming, however, certainly improvements have been made over the past few months with delays diminishing slowly back to normal levels of expectation.

Summer in 2023 should certainly be a much better picture for the airport, but between now and then, there is still a lot for them to put in place.

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